Brussels, 01 Jul 2005
After months of confrontation over who would host the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), France and Japan are to work together on the design and manufacture of a new supersonic passenger plane to succeed the retired Concorde.
The collaboration will begin with three years of research into technologies related to composite material structure, reduction of jet engine noise and other areas currently problematic for supersonic flight.
The agreement is between the Society of Japanese Aerospace Companies (SJAC) and the French Aerospace Industries Association (GIFAS), but will also involve research centres and companies from both countries.
Japan's Minister for the Economy, Trade and Industry, Shoichi Nakagawa, welcomed the agreement, saying: 'With the steadily intensifying international competition in the commercial aircraft sector, bringing their respective advantages together in order to overcome various technological difficulties should lead to the ability to offer highly advanced aircraft and services in the future. This is truly significant industrial cooperation.'
Japan has already successfully tested an engine that can theoretically reach speeds of up to more than five times the speed of sound (mach 5.5), according to the Japanese ministry. For their part, the French will contribute their experience of Concorde, the world's first and only supersonic commercial jet. The partners hope to have the plane in operation by 2015, flying at up to 2.4 times the speed of sound.
'This cooperation programme represents the symbol of the cooperative relationship between the aircraft industries of Japan and France. I am convinced that this programme will stimulate the further development of both countries,' said Mr Nakagawa.